Happy Sunday, readers!
So, in a colossally disingenuous display of both-sides-y dog-whistle journalism, some fifth-rate Gamer™ rag has apparently gathered enough recalled copies of Too Human to summon Beelzebub and try to re-awaken the Great Toxic Ones of games culture from the dreamless sea of man tears. I like to include links to topical stories in games from the past week to situate these roundups, but I couldn’t honestly be bothered here.
These are the death throes of gatekeepers in games culture. They and other edgelords trying to “elevate” a discourse that is already rife with so much interesting criticism and boundary-pushing are going noisily, but inevitably, into the dark.
Not on their own, of course–I don’t want to encourage complacency. They need to be pushed. So by all means, readers, stay vigilant and keep pushing them.
Oh, and if you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out Dante Douglas’ comprehensively kickass Critical Compilation on Bioshock Infinite.
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
How can we make more games accessible for more people? It’s a simple question with innumerable angles to consider as we arrive at solutions small and large that bring us toward steadily less-imperfect options and design considerations for access. Three authors this week each focus on specific communities of players to mount their critiques and propose solutions.
- Gamasutra: Ashton Philip Kehnscherper’s Blog – Video Games, Blindness and Sight-Loss: A Discussion
Ashton Philip Kehnscherper presents a quality, well-sourced roundup of present hurdles and solutions for making games a more accessible space for blind players.
- Making Games Better for Players with Cognitive Disabilities | Designing for Disability – YouTube
Mark Brown continues his quality work in thinking through practical ways of making games more accessible for everyone.
- Red Dead Redemption 2 is a disaster for vision-impaired players – Polygon
Stephen Wilds measures the price of realism in all the accessibility concessions those 4K horse testicles have made.
“I am legally blind due to my albinism, so gaming has always come with a bit of extra difficulty. It’s actually harder to see many things in games now that everything runs at higher resolutions and fine details are being added into a game’s design. I always find ways to use the available systems to fix the settings and make it through the missions, but Red Dead Redemption 2 has been my toughest challenge to date.”
Whether you prefer single or multiplayer titles, games have a way of bringing us together. In some cases, as with the Souls series of games, this corresponds to faint whispers of hope against the darkness, little reminders that we are not alone in our struggles. On a more metatextual level, however, there is the grim spectre of surveillance and data collection, of which games are but one appendage of an unknowable beast with unquantifiable reach. Three authors this week discuss these questions with empathy and expertise.
- Going Hollow: The Importance of Playing Online in Souls Games | Paste
Dia Lacina eulogizes Boletaria as the fire fades and the links between worlds wither.
- Why Nostalgia For Video Games Is Uniquely Powerful | Kotaku
Alyse Knorr breaks down the hows and whys of the unique pull yesteryear’s games seem to have upon us.
- PC games are showing us why we should care about surveillance | PCGamesN
Rachel Watts traces trends in recent PC games that reflect on the increasing amount of personal data we all have up for offer to the highest bidder.
“Navigating origami cities, collecting information for data webs, and spying on citizens without getting caught is fun. That’s what games are all about. But these games also make us reflect on how complicit and willing we are in giving our personal information away – for uses we’re not privy to, and to ends we might not like to imagine.”
The Ending Has Not yet Been Written
The ending of a story–and this of course includes stories in games–is a powerful thing, in that it catalyzes the moment where we take something from the story world with us, carrying it forth as we return to our own worlds. Endings are a time of reflection, of course-correction, of rebirth, and as such can be profoundly emotional experiences. Three authors this week come back from story worlds to share what they’ve learned.
- The Swords of Ditto’s Brilliant Twist Makes Me Want To Finish More Games | Kotaku
Narelle Ho Sang finds her own fraying investment in a game reflected in its twist ending.
- Losing my lust for hunting, thanks to The Bear • Eurogamer.net
Jennifer Allen puzzles out the dissonance between the emotional responses we have killing people in games versus hunting animals.
- The Serenity Prayer and Rakuen – ZEAL – Medium
Priya Sridhar guides us through grief, redemption, and acceptance in Rakuen.
“Rakuen is about accepting the things we cannot change, while asserting that our little actions make a difference. By this I mean we should take time to grieve when we fail, but also know that our actions aren’t futile in the face of a cruel, uncaring world. We can care, and we can act.”
In a pair of articles, Gita Jackson looks at sites of disruption making space for more black representation in games and in play communities.
- Sadly, It’s Surprising That There Are Two Black Women In Apex Legends | Kotaku
Gita Jackson examines the state of avatar representation via Respawn’s latest team shooty thing.
- Black Cosplayer Gives All Her Favorite Characters ‘Poofy, Curly Hair’ | Kotaku
Gita Jackson offers a window into the trials and triumphs of the black cosplay scene. Hell yeah Princess Vegeta.
“While the black cosplay community is strong and thriving, even something like interpreting a character’s hair slightly differently than other fans can lead to racist abuse.”
Just for Fun
Apparently it’s Let’s-Screw-Around-With-Magic-Cards Week and I’m here for all of it.
- Listen To Banjo Read Magic: The Gathering Cards | Kotaku
I have only a peripheral grasp of the question “What is a Magic” but I was instinctively drawn to this Important Content.
- Google Translate Makes Magic: The Gathering Cards Somehow Sound Sillier | Kotaku
SPACE AND DANGER MAN
“Although I have dated not one but two men who made me sit through many long games of Magic, I still don’t understand how Magic: The Gathering is played. What I do understand is how funny it is to send different bits of text through Google Translate, and then translating them back into English.”
- A Shack, a House, a Prison – First Person Scholar
Joshua Jackson uses the metaphor of the shack to describe the exploitation of workers in the game industry for their passion. In the interest of disclosure, I am an editor for First Person Scholar.
“By blurring the line between work and play, videogame production is asking for new workers to engage in a never-ending cycle of “doing what they love” in the hopes of building a new dwelling from the shack in which they are ensconced.”
Critical Distance is community-supported. Our readers support us from as little as one dollar a month. Would you consider joining them?
Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!